Two years ago, my boyfriend Jack and I started a YouTube channel uncovering what it’s like to be in a gay interracial relationship.
I remember the moment that we first sat down in front of a camera and tried to make a video together.
It took hours for us to record something we were both happy with, then even longer to edit it into our debut fun and friendly vlog.
When Jack and I pressed the upload button, “OurSwirlLife” was born – and the slow demise of our relationship also began.
Our social media presence suddenly grew at a crazy speed. Soon millions of people were watching the ups and downs of our lives.
With the success came freebies – free food, free holidays – and a fair amount of money.
We’d get recognised in the street by fans who were glued to our lives.
It genuinely seemed like the dream. But it soon started to become a nightmare.
More couples than ever before are sharing their love online, whether it’s through Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook or YouTube.
It often starts as a bit of fun but for a few who make money it becomes business.
We really didn’t expect our vlogging to blow up like it did.
It took a massive toll on our relationship.
Of course, every couple has their ups and downs, but you can’t really afford to have downtime when your relationship pays your rent.
Friends noticed we argued a lot more, we had to decline invites to things because we had to make videos, and we were always on our phones – constantly interacting with our audience when out and about.
After a year, our internet success ultimately lead to our break-up.
There were the usual recriminations, for Jack I was too bossy, too keen to direct – he said to me: “You managed to turn a relationship into a business partnership.”
But we’re not alone in this experience.
During filming for Newsbeat’s documentary YouTube Couples: How To Stay In Love, I spoke to loads of famous couples from all over the world.
Some are still together, fighting for their relationship and online success, while others have called it a day after it all became too much.
I know that there’s a financial pressure to keep vlogging even when you know it’s not fun anymore.
Influencer manager Maxim Savard told me that brands prefer couples to individuals because they can bounce off each other and express emotion.
The money you can earn at the very top is huge.
“If you put in monetisation, brand deals, merchandise, touring, third party websites and appearances, book deals… you can go upward to the millions”.
When Jack and I announced we wanted to take a break from our online lives, people seemed to be as devastated as we were.
We even received abusive messages from people threatening us if we didn’t get back together, because they had become that invested.
Some of the ex-couples that I met through filming totally dodged this by completely disappearing from the internet when they broke up, whilst others shared every detail, knowing that people love a bit of break-up drama.
Lorenzo was part of the very successful Portuguese online couple Lorenzo and Pedro, until they split.
Something they haven’t revealed online at all.
“I don’t know how to go back to my fans and say ‘Hey, how are you , do you remember how you told me you believe in love because of me?’
“Well guess what… it doesn’t exist any more.”
When Jack and I broke up we cut ties completely.
We left it months and months before we started talking again. It was sad but we had to get over each other and move on.
The business finally came second, we had to focus on ourselves.
But after a good break we knew we enjoyed doing the vlogs and we had an audience – so in November we decided to give it another go.
Now we’re posting videos together – but just as friends.